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Hives and Angioedema (cont.)

Self-Care at Home

Patient Comments
  • Stop any food, medicine, cosmetic, or other substance identified as the cause of the hives or angioedema.
  • In very mild cases, no treatment at all may be required.
  • If symptoms are making you uncomfortable, take a nonprescription antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), by mouth, per the package instructions or as directed by your health-care provider, until symptoms subside. These can be effective for mild episodes. Sedating antihistamines such as diphenhydramine may make you too drowsy to drive or operate machinery safely.
  • Cool compresses or baths may help with the discomfort.
  • Avoid hot baths or showers.
  • Avoid direct sunlight.
  • Wear light, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Avoid strenuous activity or anything that might cause sweating.
  • Try to relax and reduce stress.

Severe reactions: Do not attempt to treat severe reactions or to wait it out at home. Go immediately to the nearest emergency department or call an ambulance. Here are some things you can do while waiting for the ambulance:

  • Try to stay calm.
  • If you can identify the cause of the reaction, prevent further exposure.
  • Take an antihistamine, such as one or two tablets or capsules of diphenhydramine (Benadryl), if you can swallow without difficulty. The liquid form of diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can also be used at 2-4 teaspoons (10-20 mL) per dose.
  • If you are wheezing or having difficulty breathing, use an inhaled bronchodilator, such as albuterol (Proventil), if one is available. These inhaled medications dilate the airway.
  • If you are feeling light-headed or faint, lie down and raise your legs higher than your head to help blood flow to your brain.
  • If you have been given an epinephrine kit such as an Epi-Pen, inject yourself as you have been instructed. The kit provides a premeasured dose of epinephrine, a prescription drug that rapidly reverses the most serious symptoms (see Follow-up).
  • Bystanders should administer CPR to a person who becomes unconscious and stops breathing or does not have a pulse.
  • If at all possible, you or your companion should be prepared to tell medical personnel what medications you take and your allergy history.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/4/2014

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